Some Valley businesses expand despite tough economic times

One of the worst recessions in decades isn't keeping some businesses from expanding to the central San Joaquin Valley, where they benefit from lower costs and a mid-state location.

The pace of expansions into Fresno County is up this year from last year -- and the 14 relocations last year were more than the three previous years combined, said Steve Geil, president of the Economic Development Corp. serving Fresno County.

Businesses are drawn to the lower operating costs and a location that enables shippers to reach many of their customers faster. Or, in the case of Sacramento Container Corp, to better serve clients.

The manufacturer of corrugated boxes is opening a 50,000-square-foot warehouse near Elm Avenue in south Fresno in July and could add manufacturing operations within 18 months, said Joseph LeRoy, owner.

The expansion is necessary because LeRoy bought a new piece of machinery that, at 400 feet long, is occupying much of what was warehouse space in Sacramento. LeRoy said he decided there was an opportunity to provide better service for agriculture customers in the Fresno area.

Sacramento Container Corp. counts Producers Dairy, Sun-Maid Raisins and Wawona Frozen Foods among its customers. "This will allow us to better serve those customers," LeRoy said.

The company is leasing 50,000 square feet in a 400,000-square-foot industrial building and has the right of first refusal on an additional 50,000 square feet. It will employ seven to 10 people at the warehouse but could increase that to 40 if manufacturing functions are added.

Even in this environment, revenue at Sacramento Container Corp. is up 34% this year over 2008, and 2008 sales climbed 22% from 2007. It expects to do $63 million to $65 million in business this year.





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